Still hunting for your passion? Read this…

Liz Gilbert, author of the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love spoke at Oprah’s “The Life You Want Weekend” recently and said something rather controversial about finding your passion:

“I’m going to say something really weird and it’s going to surprise you… I’m going to speak out for a second against passion.”

“You spend a lot of your life having people tell you to follow your passion. It’s nice advice, it’s heart-warming advice, it’s great advice — if you happen to have one that is very clear and obvious”

But what if you’re like me (and the majority of the human race) and don’t have a single clear passion, then what do you do? The idea that you must find your passion before starting anything keeps you in a holding pattern forever.

And as Gilbert went on to say it can even make you miserable:

“Sometimes it feels cruel and all it does is make you feel even worse and more left out, because you’re like, ‘I would if I knew what it was!'”

“If you’re in that position right now… forget about passion.”

Instead, she suggests something more practical:

“Follow your curiosity”

“Passion is rare; passion is a one-night-stand. Passion is hot, it burns. Every day, you can’t access that.”

So what do you think of Gilbert’s advice?

Do you already have a clear passion? And if so, have you acted on it?

If not here’s something that might help.

What are your micro-passions?

If you simply note where your curiosity and enjoyment lies at the moment and follow it, I have found you will come across your micro-passions – small areas of life that fascinate or excite you right now.

As I mentioned, I don’t have one big passion. But I do have plenty of micro-passions.

Here are just a few of my micro-passions:

  • The future of work and value creation in the 21st century
  • Non-fiction writing that teaches new ways to see the world and get what you want
  • Innovative user-interface design in software and hardware
  • Productivity apps and software
  • Endocrinology
  • The science of happiness
  • Psychological differences between the genders
  • The cultural differences revealed in language
  • The rules of punctuation and grammar in English
  • The best coffee in London
  • High protein breakfasts
  • Building good looking websites quickly
  • Automation software
  • Standup comedy
  • Interviews with famous authors, comedians, musicians, entrepreneurs and creative people
  • The future of publishing
  • High end audio-visual technology
  • Modern architecture and skyscrapers and bars/restaurants with a dramatic view of a city

How’s that for variety? And this is just a small selection. What’s great for me is that I can use a huge number of my micro-passions in a single business (because I designed it that way)

So what are your micro-passions?

Share your top 3 in the comments. I’d love to know…


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  • erlendna

    I hear you on the future of work. That is definitelly one of mine, too. I would go as so far as to say futurism. I am very much into anything futuristic. One of my favourite questions is what would the world look like in 500 years if you drop all of the worst case scenario s?

    Coffee. Yep. I just moved offices so I am trying our some different ones. Which is o your top list? I have to admit that I am a little bit of a purist in that I normally just go for an espresso.

    Dance is deffo one of mine. So underrated these days. And falls in the category of what we should continue to do as a species in the future.

    Stoicism and personal development is another one.

  • Hi, I hate the passion thing too as my passion is for having ideas which doesn’t translate well into a business in itself.

    So instead I thought there must be a lot of other “scanners” out there and have tried to create a micropassion of “creating a few cartoons” around the idea of having too many ideas. Taking away always thinking it had to be about money helped too.

    Other Micropassions – trying our creative techniques and blogging.

  • Mark

    Ahh, but John, you say “hows that for variety?” but from reading your list I would say that they all fall into 2 bigger categories:
    1) The standard modern hipster male, into tech, coffee , entertainment and food.
    (This is the default that we are all told constantly, everyday that we should all be.
    2) Author and writer interests
    (Well you would wouldn’t you?
    OK OK.. 3..
    (I suspect you may have had troubles down there, hope all is well now?)

    But in essence I agree with your point, I dream of having a passion. Im a film-maker by trade (yes I know… cool- er… no it isnt thats the job I want out of!) because IM NOT one of the guys (my collegues) that all are writing scripts, applying for grants and going to late night showings of Tarkovsky.
    I enjoy sitting and soldering modules for my modular synth, I enjoy piddling about in Unity trying to make a computer game, even though I cant program shit, I enjoy making wooded boxes out of driftwood. But Im not very good at any of these things, I wish I was, and I wish I was really passionate so I would know which to pick. Also I wish I was single and under 30 instead of 50 (Well no I don’t) and didnt have to pay 2000 per month rent, buy kids clothes, food and keep getting the car fixed…

    I enjoy getting your mail outs, but i could never afford to join a course or take a risk or any of the things you advocate, I just earn too much money right now!

  • johnsw

    Hi Erlend. I am on Ozone Coffee right now which is pretty good!
    Yes futurism is fascinating. There is a good meetup group in London with interesting speakers. I hear a lot about the Stoics but haven’t got into that yet. Someone recommended me a book this week that is a good intro but I’ve forgotten what it was now!

  • johnsw

    I like the sound of the cartoons. Can you post one or two here in the comments? 🙂

  • Guest

    Hi John – yes sure 🙂 Here are a couple

  • Hi John, Yes thanks here are a couple

  • johnsw

    Ha! I love them Tara!

  • Thanks John 🙂

  • Rob

    Liz’s comments definitely resonate and put together very nicely in this article. Micro passions;
    1)Wine- not just drinking but learning and understanding history and complexities of new and old world.
    2) Spanish- Not easy to learn, constant practice, beautiful language.
    3) Real estate- Love houses, especially in international locations.
    4) International travel.

  • johnsw

    Nice! They fit together rather well too.

  • Patricia Selmo

    HI, John – This post really resonated with me – I have been struggling in my biz for years because i can’t seem to stick to one thing long enough to make it work. I have so many interests and micro-passions that I start and stop because the minute I decide on one, I worry it’s the wrong one (for a business) _ I thought I could blog about each of them – but then I’d have about 5 blogs going at the same time! Here are some of my top ones:
    1. Spirituality/Ritual/Tarot
    2. Aromatherapy and herbal healing
    3. Social Media and quick and inexpensive websites
    4. Graphic Recording, Doodling, SketchNotes and Art Journaling
    5. Blogging

    Currently at a standstill because I can’t seem to pick a direction! Would have loved to join your program but found out about it too late – hope you offer it agin soon! Any advice on what to do in the meantime is most welcome! Love your book and your site.

  • Patricia Selmo

    These are great, Tara – I can totally relate!

  • Longwayaround

    My top 3 micro-passions: animal welfare, horse riding, environmental activism

  • Thanks Patricia

  • johnsw

    Funnily enough sometimes it helps to focus on the money more when you are at the stage you’re at. Which of these can make you a consistent income? Then focus on that. Whichever it is, you need one you can bring something to.

  • Patricia Selmo

    hmmm…probably the websites/Social Media one then – I get a lot of friends asking for help due to my IT background and their fear of techonology…thanks!

  • lamb-O

    Not the top 3 (I cannot choose those), just the first three coming to my mind right now:
    – Spirituality
    – Videogames
    – Celtic music

    And no, I have no idea how to make a living frome these or any other micro-passion.
    Excellent post though, it gave me insight on a point which is rather critical to me.

  • Melby

    Mountain biking, hiking with my dogs, exercising and eating cleanly/healthfully and motorcycles/racing. But am stuck. I’ve tried the “training” of people in health and cannot stand it and love the outdoors. Any insight would be most appreciated 🙂 keep up the awesomeness

  • Cameron Hunt

    – Fishing
    – North Queensland (most awesome place on the planet)
    – Nature

  • Youcanthidethespark

    John, great post! My three micro passions are being outdoors/in nature, writing books and my blog, and moving my body (yoga, weights etc).

    I used to make money from personal training and considered writing to be a hobby (or a pipe dream!) Now I am slowly making money from writing and exercise/fitness is my hobby. I am MUCH happier now that I have made this switch. Both passions are still a major part of my life but the focus is different.

  • Sue

    Hello John, I started to write down my micro passions and so far there’s 21 of them! They are as divergent as selling digital products, lino printing and eating a paleo diet! I’m waiting for a book called, ‘The One Thing,’ by Gary Keller to be delivered from amazon. I’m hoping it might help me focus! Great article. Sue x

  • Youcanthidethespark

    I love these!!

  • Thanks – working on some more 🙂

  • johnsw

    Looks like a great book. Thanks for the tip, Sue. I have dozens of micro passions but a great many of them are satisfied by my one business

  • johnsw

    Yes, great news about your book! That’s so cool.

  • johnsw

    I can certainly see some money-making ideas based on those 3

  • johnsw

    What’s your work been so far? If there’s any way to combine them that can be very powerful

  • Youcanthidethespark

    Thanks John. I can’t quite believe there will be a book in a shop next year with my name on it!

  • johnsw

    It’s interesting because I never mentioned making money from them! Of course there will be a way to make money from them if you want to. There are people who make a living from all 3 of those things

  • johnsw

    Type for an eco-conscious retreat centre with horse riding and rescue animals perhaps? 🙂

  • johnsw

    It’s a very exciting moment when you first walk into a shop and see it

  • Youcanthidethespark

    I will definitely celebrate (champagne will be involved). Cheers John.

  • Alice Hadridge

    Interesting article – I think there are probably far fewer people who can truly say they have one passion above all others compared with the number who can list many ‘micro passions’. My top 3 which were very difficult to select from the longer list of 12 are
    1) ways to live more sustainably
    2) getting the most out of the time I have available to garden/grow things
    3) healthy living (diet and exercise trends) to help those of us over 40 to get to/maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle

    I have gone with the 2nd one as the basis of my next play project idea but they all interact in some way.

  • Melby

    Just an executive admin asst as my bachelors hasn’t gotten me anywhere hence going back to school to see if this nurse degree (which isn’t my big interest though I have done tons of home health work before so giving shots or doing wound care doesn’t bother me) and a masters in REgistered Dietitian but am not sure if I can get into either programs. At my mid 40s and the US budget on education it’s very hard. ? So I feel stuck. I’ve always felt in my heart to have my own at home biz but haven’t “seen” what that is. I do draw a lot and do research which am good at but still love the outdoors. Kills me to be inside. Weird ey?

  • Another nice article that helps us think about the “real engine” that drives us through life.

    My first thought was that I am one of those few that have a clear and obvious passion: Music
    Have I acted on it yet? Well, I have waited for more than 40 years in my life before truly acting, but… yes, I started moving. It’s a difficult process, though.

    Having said this, I totally agree on the fact that curiosity is just as important as passion. Curiosity helps you get moving, rises questions that need answers, brings new ideas… Curiosity makes things happen. And a curious person will always be “alive and kicking”.

    Even if I happen to have a true passion, I must admit there are several micro passions as well, and the top 3 could be:
    1) photography (and photo processing)
    2) digital audio recording
    3) nature

    Keep playing with us, John

  • erlendna

    Well, recently read the “Obstacle is the way”. This is a gentle and good start to stoicism I’d say.

    Ozone coffee. I’ll try it out. Thanks!

  • johnsw

    I’ve heard good things about that book.

  • Great post which shines light on the fact that ‘finding your passion’ or ‘following your passion’ isn’t as straightforward as it seems. In fact, as a positive psychology practitioner I’ve researched passion in depth and discovered that in order to live a fulfilling life you should stop chasing what you love and instead find love in what you do. And I have just released my book on how exactly you go about that! It’s called Screw Finding Your Passion: It’s Within You, Let’s Unlock It and is available on Amazon now (

  • johnsw

    Well if you were on the 30 Day Challenge we’d get you doing the pastries and sweets straight away in some way